Menachem Begin, the right-wing Likud leader who is expected to assume the premiership next month, talked informally about Israel's history and politics today with newly arrived U.S. ambassador Samuel Lewis.
"It went very well," said U.S. Information Service director Stanley Moss, at whose residence the three lunched. "There was nothing substantive. Begin talked a lot about the history of the country and the development of the political parties, and the ambassador talked about his interest in Israel."
The influential independent daily Haaretz meanwhile warned Begin that he faces loss of popular support if he persists in his militant views. "So far, Mr. Begin has done the opposite of what persons of goodwill are recommending," the newspaper said.
It said his post-election visit to the controversial Kaddum settlement in the occupied West Bank of Jordan, during which he promised the establishment of even more Israeli settlements, in the occupied territories, "means a far more militant line for the new government."
The English-language Jerusalem Post also said Begin's declarations "may be seen as a form of posturing which is impressive for a leader of the opposition but raises troubling questions in regard to a prime minister."
Agence France-Presse quoted sources close to the Likud bloc as saying it hopes to form a coalition in which it would control the foreign, defense and finance ministries in addition to the premiership. Begin is said to want to serve as both prime minister and foreign minister.